It was an early morning. I could see the sunrise through the plane’s window, as well as the breathtaking greenery. For an airport built in the middle of a tropical forest, our plane glided graciously on the runway, as if it was welcome to a green carpet under gorgeous sunlight. The crowds on the plane were a bit excited to begin their vacation in the tropical, I could feel it as they move and talk in their seats. Once I had gone through the immigration, I was greeted by a warm (humid) tropical breeze, the sound of birds from the woods, and my hotel shuttle driver, who was about to transport me to the resort.
Where we stayed was (like most people do) a resort built on the Cancún trip, the resort was merely 10 miles away from the airport (and I will explain the geography of Cancún later). Soon after the driver left the airport the skyline of Cancún’s beachfront became visible – it was a lineup of stunning, and luxurious resorts on the edge of the coastline of Cancún.
Cancún is a popular travel destination in North America for a reason. I would say it’s meant to be based on its climate, location, and resources. First of all, the city enjoys a decent tropical climate that it’s warm all year long. I, personally, prefer visiting in December as it goes cooler, and it feels more comfortable when the sun hits. Secondly, the location of the city is just soooo right! It’s located in Mexico’s Yucatán’s province and it’s facing the Caribbean Sea. That’s why the majority of the resorts are eastward facing with a balcony to enjoy the gorgeous, unobstructed sunrise every morning. That’s how I love to start my day! Finally, the city has beautiful beaches, entertainment facilities and a scatter of historical Mayan heritage sites nearby, it’s a place for both ‘young-at-hearts’ and ‘mature-in-minds’.
Cancún is definitely a city that could stay for a few days to a week – a few days in the resort and 1 to 2 excursions; I just had to see the Chichen Itza and Tulum, they are probably the two most popular Mayan UNESCO world heritage sites anyway – and both places are few-hour drive away from the city; Playa del Carmen is a smaller town in the south with lots of water sports opportunities and all sorts of outdoor activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and a chance to explore the amazing and wondrous water underworld.
* The resort *
Since we arrived so early in the morning, we had to wait until noon for the check-in (not so bad), and we headed into the resort for some breakfast and early pool time J. I am not sure if all the resorts in Cancún work the same way but my guess (and research), should be similar. The resort is a big complex with facilities such as pools (and poolside bars and lots of chairs), playgrounds, grocery store, post office, shops, restaurants, and even bike rental. We could basically stay within the resort, not going out to the city we could still have a fabulous time. That’s some families do while they were traveling in a big group and I saw the parents were seriously stocking up for the winter and feeding the herd in the grocery store…
When checking in, we got a card which we could add value to any spending within the resort (like dining and grocery shopping), well, obviously the digital money concept is not something groundbreaking, but it helped a lot to deal with all the transactions and payments with the hotel guests.
In Cancún, the US dollar is very welcome in restaurants and shops and it’s almost an unofficial currency in the city. I only got a small amount of Mexican peso cash for transportation and tipping… (Yeah, tipping is how the service people make money and so all service people around you expect a tip in Cancún – drivers, servers, hotel staff…), and we usually tipped similar to the US: 15% – 20%.
For the resort we stayed in, it’s only about US$100 per night and it has a balcony with the view of the ocean. Besides, each resort has a close and easy access to the beach. The beach is generally for the public it is connected from one resort to the other – all the way from South to North. However, sun chairs could possibly be exclusive to hotel guests, but there were plenty of them the time I visited and so the chairs were not strictly safeguarded. The beach was quite huge and so you do not feel crowded (or lying on top of each other). Not much people swim in December, but many of them enjoyed walked along the beach under the warm sun.
* Exploring the Party Town! *
I was excited to go out and see the tourist zone!! We stayed on the south side of the strip and it’s extremely easy to travel back and forth. Traveling northbound, the lagoon is on the left side of the road while all the resorts are built on the right. The resort area is a narrow strip that there’s only one main road running through the area. For visitors who don’t rent a car, there is a bus line (#R1/R2) running up and down the strip for a few Pesos, and buses come rather frequently.
There are shopping malls along the road, from classy and luxurious to economy and budget.
La Boutique Palacio has upscale luxury brands and boutiques, the Isla Malls offers some young and trendy choices, the Negro Flea Market Mall has local handicrafts / cheap souvenirs and tourist products…
“Thanyou For you Generous Tip :)”
I was pleasantly surprised with my experience in Cancún and I wish to visit there again, if not now. Some say the city became too commercial, restaurants and shops were overpriced and most servers expect tips, tips, and tips. Well yeah, that’s somehow true but I thought it was within a reasonable range. Most of the service people, tour guides, and drivers I encountered were friendly, knowledgeable and helpful; the tourist area is safe and the city was clean :). One thing, though, I experienced a serious lack of efficiency at the airport. Maybe that’s the true color of working without tips?